Students Collaborate to Protect Waterways in the US and Russia

CCE welcomed three students from Astrakhan State University to Bard from July 25-August 3 to begin a joint US-Russian environmental exchange project. Bard students Sammy Astrachan (’18), Emma Donohue (’18), and Marika Krupitsky (’18) spent the week with the Astrakhan students to jointly develop a youth leadership environmental education toolkit that shares best practices from both the U.S. and Russia. Together, the students learned about the similarities and differences between the Hudson River and the Volga River, best practices for youth environmental education, and how communities collaborate to protect local waterways. Student Marika Krupitsky said, “It’s been a really unique experience getting to compare stewardship of the river that runs through our own backyard with one halfway across the world.”
The Bard and Astrakhan teams participated in a multitude of activities, including an environmental education conference called Teaching the Hudson Valley, a visit to the FDR museum, canoeing on the Hudson, and a weekend in New York City. Bard student Emma Donohue said, “I’ve had a wonderful time working with the Astrakhan visitors.  The language barriers have been challenging at times, no doubt, but everyone had a great attitude. All in all, I would say it was a successful multicultural exchange.”
The exchange program and the toolkit are funded by a grant from the Eurasia Foundation; the toolkit will be translated into both English and Russian and made available to local youth-serving organizations. The Bard students, will have the chance to pilot their toolkit in an EUS course this fall and also implement toolkit activities during Citizen Science 2017. The Bard team, including CCE Science Outreach Coordinator Siira Rieschl and Tom O’Dowd from EUS, will travel to Astrakhan, Russia, in October to continue their work on the toolkit and to experience firsthand the engagement work being done to protect the Volga River in the Astrakhan region.

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